Handshake-free Zones

H/T Magnetic for this article in Spiked:

For the past 50 years, the public-health movement has been bashing away at smokers. It’s a filthy, dirty habit and it should be stamped out, they say. Through labels, taxes, lectures and bans, the hoped for ‘end game’ for tobacco seems closer than ever. The self-righteous prohibitionists not only want to inform us of the health risks of the evil weed, but through nudging, cajoling and even outright legal force, they want to stop us from smoking altogether. They know what is good for us, even if we don’t.

But the ambitions of these health wonks – and the politicians who support them – are not restricted to the humble cigarette. No, having figured out how to batter smokers into near submission, they want to apply the same playbook to almost any other form of enjoyment. The quest is on for ‘the new tobacco’. And the candidates are piling up.

Like for example (H/T Audrey Silk) handshakes:

FRIDAY, May 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Regulations to restrict handshakes in the health care setting, along with more robust hand hygiene programs, may help limit the spread of disease, according to a viewpoint published online May 15 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Mark Sklansky, M.D., from the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues acknowledge that the handshake has a profound cultural role and holds interpersonal significance, as well as commercial importance. While providers’ handshakes with patients can be perceived as signs of compassion, they can also spread germs.

The authors propose that lessons from smoking bans should be applied to handshakes. Given that warnings of smoking’s harms and subsequent bans were able to cut a deeply entrenched habit, the same may be possible with handshakes. “Handshake-free zones” should be established along with educational programs and signage. A replacement gesture may need to be adopted also.

“Removing the handshake from the health care setting may ultimately become recognized as an important way to protect the health of patients and caregivers, rather than as a personal insult to whoever refuses another’s hand,” the authors write.

What would the replacement gesture be? Hugs or kisses would obviously be even worse than handshakes.

So how about a raised middle finger?

And of course there’s always food:

Food should be regulated like tobacco, say campaigners

The food industry should be regulated like the tobacco industry as obesity poses a greater global health risk than cigarettes, say international groups. 

Consumers International and the World Obesity Federation are calling for the adoption of more stringent rules. 

These could include pictures on food packaging of damage caused by obesity, similar to those on cigarette packets. 

The new rules could include reducing the levels of salt, saturated fat and sugar in food, improving food served in hospitals and schools, imposing stricter advertising controls, and educating the public about healthy eating. 

Obesity poses a greater global health risk than cigarettes? I wonder if handshakes also pose a greater global health risk than cigarettes? At this rate we’ll find out that more or less everything poses a greater global health risk than cigarettes. Which is what I always thought anyway.

The possibilities are limitless. After they’ve banned handshakes, they could then ban talking. Because whenever you open your mouth and say something, you breathe out a cloud of millions of plague and anthrax and tuberculosis germs. So don’t say, “Hello. Pleased to meet you.” Just give them the replacement gesture, and let your eyebrows do the talking.

Actually, handshakes are the least of it. In fact, whenever people meet up at pubs or cafes or restaurants, they’re all just breathing out plague and anthrax and tuberculosis and rabies germs the whole time all over everybody else. Particularly if they’re all yapping away at each other.  Simplest thing would be to just ban pubs, cafes, and restaurants. And also theatres, cinemas, and sports stadiums. And buses and trains and passenger jets. And shops, offices, factories. Anywhere people can catch germs from other people.

Best of all, I reckon, would be to close down hospitals. After all, where do people go when they’ve just contracted plague or tuberculosis or rabies on a crowded train? Why, hospitals of course! So hospitals are full of sick people, spraying germs in all directions. You might go into hospital one day with Legionnaire’s disease, and come out a few days later with cholera or beri-beri instead. Best to simply restrict sick people to their own homes, if necessary bricking up their front doors so they can’t get out.

Actually, you should restrict ‘well’ people to their own homes too. After all, a ‘well’ person is just someone who hasn’t got pneumonia or typhoid or meningitis or cancer yet. But probably soon will, if allowed to wander around unregulated outside. After all, the outdoor environment is full of germs. Everything is coated in germs out there. Did you know that there are 40 million bacteria in every gramme of soil? And guess how many grammes of soil there are in every garden?

One hell of a lot. So obviously they should ban gardens and parks. And potted plants. And gardening. And farming. And hiking and rambling.

At this rate we’ll all soon be shuffling around in our bricked-up homes with Kleenex boxes for shoes, like Howard Hughes.

So when is Kleenex going to start marketing proper shoe-shaped boxes?

About Frank Davis

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46 Responses to Handshake-free Zones

  1. wobbler2012 says:

    The problem is there gets to be more and more of these groups popping up every year, all hell bent on managing other peoples lives because they think that they know best, I’m sick of the bastards.

    • These idiots have always been there. But they were isolated in the corner of the pub, and every one treated them with contempt and black humour.

      Now they have access to the internet, they are able to gang up, and as soon as you have a group of more than three people, Politicians see it as a “vote winning opportunity” to bend over (back wards, or forewards, depending on the “bent” of the group) and let them fuck him RIGHT up the arse when it comes to suporrting their wacky beliefes in Parliament.

      THAT is the second (after the nutters being allowed Internet accesss) of todays problems, politicians who actualy LISTEN to the fucking nutter sitting in the corner hugging his half Guiness and packet of crisps, muttering about “conspiracys” etc.

      • Harleyrider1978 says:

        FT I love a bit of ”Talking Treason too down at the local watering hole myself”

        Now if I could just find somebody with trillions of tax dollars printed daily for any use I wanted,I could buy all the politicians and friends I need to criminalize nutters!

  2. SomeFrenchBloke says:

    A slightly belated comment on yesterday’s article:
    Russia’s high smoking prevalence and cold conditions (the latter an undisputable health concern) clearly enter the equation, but so does their decline in male lung cancer mortality, from a crude rate of 81.2 per 100,000 in 1993 (78.2 for Ukraine) to 64.3 by 2010 (55.8 for Ukraine). This is all the more significant since the low birth rates in both countries caused the base of the population pyramids to shrink rather dramatically, which by itself should have led to an increase in the crude rates for all ages.
    All in the absence of a clear decline in smoking rates, of course: both countries are in the top six for cigs/adult/year [Serbia (2,869), Bulgaria (2,822), Greece (2,795), Russia (2,786), Moldova (2,479), Ukraine (2,401)].
    Should not someone like Veronika Igorevna Skvortsova (Minister of Health of the Russian Federation in Dmitry Medvedev’s Cabinet) take all of these facts into account?

    • waltc says:

      Interesting. Even 2800 a year is less than a half a pack a day (3650). That aside, these days no Minister of Heath anywhere will take anything into account that undermines the agenda,

      • SomeFrenchBloke says:

        Bearing in mind that reportedly 15.5% of Russian women and 60.4% of men are smokers, that means roughly 38% of all adults. So the average figure per smoker comes at around 7332 manufactured cigarettes a year: about 20 per day.

        • Harleyrider1978 says:

          The way I heard it some time back was its 60 a day for Russian men…………..

  3. Fredrik Eich says:

    “Obesity poses a greater global health risk than cigarettes? ”
    If so , it is caused in part by people stopping smoking and therefore caused by the activities of the anti-smoking lobby.

    Anti-smoking makes you fat.

    • Marie says:

      Yes. I lost a lot of weight, when I started to smoke when I was 25! And all the stop smoking people have weight problems.

  4. mikef317 says:

    Random links on paternalism. Some are a bit old.


  5. junican says:

    The main point (I think!) is that smoking as a ’cause’ of diseases is becoming weaker and weaker all the time. This particularly applies to SHS. Question: “Is the transfer of diseases by hand-shakes more or less prevalent than the transfer of diseases by tobacco smoke?”
    What we see from these proposals is the weakness of the whole healthist agenda. I wonder if the originator of all this nonsense actually exploited ‘calculus’ deliberately?
    At this time of night, I am not quite sure, but the idea of ‘calculus’ is to take ‘the norm’ and observe and calculate minor variations. For example, the orbit of the Earth around the Sun is almost a perfect circle. The nearest approach of the Earth to the Sun is about 91,000,000 miles, and its furthest distance is 95,000,000 miles, giving an average of about 93,000,000 miles. So, the variation is in the orbit is about 2%. That is enough to give some variations, but it is still not a lot. In fact, as we are taught in schools (or used to be), it is not the distance from the Sun which matters for the weather in the UK – it is the angle at which the Sun’s rays strike the UK which is important.
    Calculus concentrates upon ‘the differences’ in the orbit and not upon the whole orbit. It concentrates upon the variation of 2% and not upon the the common 98%.
    I don’t know by whom and when the idea of calculus as a weapon for tobacco control was devised, but there is little doubt in my mind that it was so. Imagine how impressive it seems to say that the difference between the closest approach of the Earth to the Sun and the furthest distance, is TWICE AS MUCH.
    Adverts on TV exploit the same theme. “Our washing liquid washes “TWICE AS WHITE” as …..”

    I do not give a toss about adverts on TV. If the Education System deliberately avoids teaching kids about the trickery of adverts on TV, that is not my problem. At least I taught my own kids to recognise advertising trickery.
    Hand-shaking, as a source of the transfer of diseases is minuscule. But why give these idiots the time of day?

    • Frank Davis says:

      Calculus, in my understanding of it, entails integration and differentiation. Isaac Newton invented the mathematical technique that used vanishingly small numbers, and used it to calculate the orbit of the the Earth and the the Moon. He later got into an argument with another mathematician (Liebnitz?) about who thought of it first.

      Perhaps Tobacco Control uses it somewhere, but I’ve never seen it. Nor have I seen complex numbers or vector algebra. Their principal mathematical device seems to be statistics.

      Which reminds me that I was watching something about Fermat’s Last Theorem last night. Didn’t understand a word of it. But it had me asking, not for the first time, why professors of mathematics in our illustrious universities don’t ever engage with the problem of the mathematical and statistical sleight of hand in which epidemiologists everywhere engage. What’s the point of having them if they won’t address such abuses?

  6. Edgar says:

    I don’t want to shake kands with someone who’s only thinking about my germs. (Henri Herbert is terrific, and probably doesn’t give two hoots about who might have been whacking those keys before him.)

  7. waltc says:

    At the risk of being too much of a contrarian, hospitals are, in fact, dens of contagion and unfortunately one repeatedly-proven cause is the terrible hygiene of doctors and nurses who don’t wash their hands between patients (like they never heard of Lister). Top of my head, I can cite 4 examples of people I know well who went into the hospital with one thing (in 2 cases, nothing remotely connected to a germ) and caught infections while there. One of them died of it. In a 5th case, the person was “just visiting.” but caught a hard to get over hospital-borne intestinal virus.

    The real answer, of course, is to get staff to obey the basic age-old, common-sense rules of wash-your-f’ing-hands but as long as they don’t, I’d rather not shake hands in a hospital with a doctor who’s just taken blood from a patient with West Nile or a nurse who’s just changed a bed pan. (Same would apply to the mother who’s just soothed the fevered brow of her son with meningitis.) I think the guy was just suggesting this apply to hospitals. Yeah, his overlay of social engineering and “substitute gestures” is typically ridiculously obnoxious but still , seems to me the general idea is in a different ballpark from the rest of the crap.

    Bacteria and viruses unlike hamburgers and sugar and smoke and sun are real, immediate, provable, empirical causes of disease.

  8. Sunex Amures says:

    Why not just ban people altogether and have it all over and done with, then the remaining ‘elites’ can have the place all to themselves in all its arid, echoing, empty, nothingness.

    Incidentally I have to smile every time that advert for detergent comes on wailing about ‘bacteria’ on our clothes – can anyone take that seriously?

  9. bucko says:

    Interesting. You said that a well person is simply someone who hasn’t caught something yet. That’s exactly how the NHS works, isn’t it. You pay for the service all your life, regardless of if or how much you use it.

  10. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Smoking to be banned in SA outdoor dining

    By Australian Associated Press

    21 May 2014

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/aap/article-2634711/Smoking-banned-SA-outdoor-dining.html#ixzz32M7QdOhT

  11. carol2000 says:

    Yawn, ho hum, the worthless slippery slope argument again. Only attacking the anti-smokers’ scientific fraud will end their attacks against us. But politicians are guaranteed never to act on this as long as nobody demands that they do.

    • Harleyrider1978 says:

      Agreed Carol but attacking all their points makes them have to defend even more fronts publicly and politically! Outrage is what is needed and its building as everybody gets fucked equally in this war on everything!

      • Harleyrider1978 says:

        Here is what FANTACISM LOOKS LIKE

        Using the tobacco fear to police our lives

        Sugar, food, sunshine, sitting down – everything fun is now labelled ‘the new tobacco’

        or the past 50 years, the public-health movement has been bashing away at smokers. It’s a filthy, dirty habit and it should be stamped out, they say. Through labels, taxes, lectures and bans, the hoped for ‘end game’ for tobacco seems closer than ever. The self-righteous prohibitionists not only want to inform us of the health risks of the evil weed, but through nudging, cajoling and even outright legal force, they want to stop us from smoking altogether. They know what is good for us, even if we don’t.

        But the ambitions of these health wonks – and the politicians who support them – are not restricted to the humble cigarette. No, having figured out how to batter smokers into near submission, they want to apply the same playbook to almost any other form of enjoyment. The quest is on for ‘the new tobacco’. And the candidates are piling up.

        The current frontrunner is sugar. Earlier this year, the media gleefully reported on a new campaign – Action on Sugar – which aimed to persuade the food industry to cut down on added sugar and demanded taxes on sugary drinks. ‘SUGAR IS “THE NEW TOBACCO”’, declared the Daily Mail’s front page, quoting a public-health researcher, Professor Simon Capewell. A particularly woeful edition of Channel 4’s current-affairs show, Dispatches, swiftly followed, offering a platform for the anti-sugar crusaders while less-than-subtly implying that those officially charged with providing recommendations for our sugar intake had been bought off by the food industry. The producer of Al Gore’s climate-change polemic, An Inconvenient Truth, Laurie David, has just brought out a new film, Fed Up, repeating the same story of a giant industry – Big Food – killing millions by foisting a deadly product – sugary food – on unsuspecting consumers.


  12. Radical Rodent says:

    So how about a raised middle finger?

    How about two raised fingers – we don’t want half-hearted American gestures, here, but full-blooded Anglo-Saxon ones!

  13. Radical Rodent says:

    Your clip so eloquently shows what those who insist on wearing their ear-phones can so often miss out on.

  14. Harleyrider1978 says:

    For those who just have to toss butts on the ground at least realise your butts bio-degrade within weeks to a few months and become fertilizer for the greenery in the parks. This is an advantage of butt trash over common litter for which the park service owes a deep gratitude to the smoekrs for doing! Perhaps a simple sign stating to toss butts here in areas needing fertilizing will help those less green areas of the park.

    Then the birds and wildlife use the butts for nesting materials and the natural nicotine in them keeps mytes and other unwanted pests away from the small baby wildlife in their most delicate point of life being born and raised to keep the taxpayers happy having little friends that live in the parks……….Yes smoking in the parks is also a part of the ECO-SYSTEM!

  15. Harleyrider1978 says:

    BTW I went to see my Doctor today over a pulled muscle in my back and before I left he said come in the office and have a smoke for a minute! Of course he wears Cowboy boots too and is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical school!

    Who says we don’t still have real doctors around!

    • Barry Homan says:

      my kind of M.D.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Does he take on more patients?

      I got 60 seconds with some weirdo at my health centre for a rash the other week. I have used the crap he prescribed and will tomorrow ask a pharmacist for something.

      Needless to say, 40 seconds of my appointment was wasted by the youngster medic establishing that I still was a smoker, after which he took my blood pressure and looked annoyed. So I said: ” Don’t bother prescribing stuff that will raise my blood pressure, coming here did the trick!”
      Dr. what’shisname was not amused.

      • beobrigitte says:

        BTW, My blood pressure was 125/80

      • Harleyrider1978 says:

        Beo he likely would but Ive been seeing him for 20 years and he knows me very very well.

        To get that kind of trust takes time to where they are human. He said some other things too that I cant mention on a public platform but his Owebama Phone joke was Hillarious!

        • Harleyrider1978 says:

          I actually found one fight today! Been on pain killers since 11 am and well looking for fights on the net. I truly don’t know what Im gonna do after the bans get repealed and the fights over!

          One thing is for sure this fight is coming to a HEAD!

        • beobrigitte says:

          One thing is for sure this fight is coming to a HEAD!

          Actually, this is something I am wondering about a lot. Frank did mention this a while ago, so I kept some sort of notice.

          Countries in which a smoking ban is dictated appear to be vulnerable to unrest. Even in Thailand, the anti-smoker flag ship, things are getting uncomfortable.
          I still do not know what the Thai police will do when spotting an under age prostitute smoking…..

        • Marie says:

          I have seen the same doctor for 20 years too. He never talked about smoking or other health things. But he stopped, because he is chronic pain sufferer himself, due to herniated. So I had to find a new one a year ago. As I had bronchitis this winter, she told me, that I was smoking. I asked, how she new that, because I never told her. She said, that she could smell it! Very nice!
          I have never ever before had a doc., who mentioned smoking. And I am 70.

  16. Harleyrider1978 says:

    “” How about raising the right arm and saying ‘Hail, (fill in the blank)’?””

    From the CBS Denver affiliate, KCNC:

    Is Your Handshake As Dangerous As Smoking?

    By Dr. Dave Hnida | May 20, 2014

    … A commentary in the Journal Of The American Medical Association says it’s time to say goodbye to the handshake greeting in a health care setting. Or for that measure, goodbye to the goodbye handshake as well.

    Sure, a firm handshake can be seen as a sign of greeting and compassion, but it’s also believed to be one of the easiest methods to transmit germs. We’ve actually believe this for a long time but perhaps there is new urgency in the mysterious new world of diseases like MERS.

    Here we thought MERS was just one of the benefits of the ‘gorgeous mosaic’ of allowing everyone and their brother to come to the US.

    So the recommendation is to treat handshakes like smoking. In other words, since there are a lot of places that simply have smoke free zones, it seems like a good idea to have handshake free zones.

    That means educational programs, signage (I guess a stencil of a handshake with a big “X” through it), and perhaps penalties for violating the no-handshake policy.

    The authors write: “Removing the handshake from the healthcare setting may ultimately become recognized as an important way to protect the health of patients and caregivers, rather than a personal insult to whoever refuses another’s hand.”

    They recommend we develop an alternate greeting that doesn’t involve touching. And one that won’t insult someone.

    How about raising the right arm and saying ‘Hail, (fill in the blank)’?


  17. beobrigitte says:

    “Removing the handshake from the health care setting may ultimately become recognized as an important way to protect the health of patients and caregivers, rather than as a personal insult to whoever refuses another’s hand,” the authors write.

    Here the author gets a little too carried away by fear. (That’s nothing unusual for fear mongers)
    He does mix up a few things in his fear induced frenzy:
    In health care people do have to touch each other. The anti-smoker preaching fear of passive smoke standing on his soap box does not have to touch anybody.

    Sure, hospital acquired infections can be tricky; we are dealing with bugs that have adapted rather quickly (a bacterial plasmid replicates in 20 minutes!). The number of antibiotics for these bugs are indeed worryingly small and the dosage needs to be monitored carefully.
    One would think that Big Pharma was working tirelessly on the development of more effective and less dangerous treatment for these bugs. Unfortunately this means a huge investment into things of which 60% turn out to be an expensive waste of cash. It’s more profitable to “save lives” according to tobacco control.
    How long were the trials for e.g. Zyban? If I am correct, this was thrown on the market after 6 weeks hurried something. Long term effect? (Please correct me if I am wrong!)

    Fear either makes people inert or it makes them do stupid things justified by even more stupid arguments.
    These days I announce my cigarette breaks with: “Right, folks. Time for a smoke. It’s that sticky stuff – a bit like glue- that keeps a healthy mind together.”

    • beobrigitte says:

      Priceless!!! When the subject of washing your hands (something we all do without wasting a thought!) becomes the subject of the day……..

      What a boring life people must have.

    • Marie says:

      May 31 marks World No Tobacco Day. This year’s United States Surgeon General’s report highlighted that

      “every adult who dies early because of smoking is replaced by two new, young smokers”.

      In Singapore, enforcement officers catch about 6,000 underage smokers annually and I wonder whether underage smoking is being perpetuated by passive attitudes among school administrators, who may sweep such incidents under the carpet for fear of tarnishing their school’s reputation.

      • Harleyrider1978 says:

        So the kids will all be guilty of smoking via nicotine testing even if they eat!

        Nicotine Rich Foods

        Nicotine is not just found in smoking cigarettes, they are also found in common food that one eats on a daily basis. Letting go of the smoke however lowers the levels of nicotine one ingests. But it is also advisable to stay away from..

        1. Tomatoes

        Tomatoes contain at least 7.1 to 7.3 nanograms (NG) of nicotine. This is a basic food spice or supplement that adds flavor to dishes. But this relatively small amount can easily be digested and done away by the body.

        2. Potatoes

        Potatoes contain solanin, much of them found on its peel. Potatoes which are still budding contain at least 42.8ng of nicotine. When it is ripe, the amount reduces to 4.3ng. Potatoes are commonly used to make french fries, an added supplementary ingredient in most dishes. Avoid pureeing potatoes as they can rise to nicotine levels around 52ng, which can be fatal to the health.

        3. Eggplants

        Eggplants contain around 100ng of nicotine. Next to tobacco and cigarettes, the eggplant is a violent natural home to nicotine. 10 kg of eggplants can correspond to one cigarette. Eggplants that are grilled can have higher nicotine levels as well.

        4. Teas

        Tea is healthy, but did you know that green and black tea contains around 100 ng of nicotine? Black tea has such amount on constant. While these are natural teas, artificially made teas contain at least 285ng of nicotine, roughly 1/8 of a cigarette.

        5. Cauliflowers

        These delicious vegetables actually contains at least 16.8 of nicotine. These are often used in many vegetable diets, but considering the nicotine levels, you’ll have to increase your vegetable options. While it is rich in vitamins, daily consumption may lead to health problems as well.

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